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Kinga Butlewska - "ReCity. Redefining the concept of 'urban quality of life' in a post-industrial city"

03 of July '20
Technical data
Type: master's thesis
Year of defense: 2019
Authors: Kinga Butlewska

Prof. zw. dr. hab. Slawomir Gzell

Due to the problems of today's world, including the impending environmental catastrophe resulting from ongoing climate change, we are faced with the need to make fundamental changes to urban processes and the way cities are managed.

The work is intended to contribute to preserving the importance of a high quality of urban life and to direct attention to the conscious process of urban revitalization in a way that is compatible with nature and in harmony with the needs of the residents, and consequently to create principles that are a universal language of urbanism.

The design part of the work focuses on finding solutions to the current problems of cities, especially post-industrial cities, which are in the greatest economic and social crisis.

ReCity project

For the project, a set of postulates was formulated based on today's knowledge and predictions about our existence. They are intended as an opportunity to create a model of the city as a friendly environment for living, working and resting, and taking into account the welfare of the ecosystem. In a theoretical attempt to implement the designated postulates in the city of Lodz, the diploma project was implemented at two scales: macro and micro.

postulaty ReCity

ReCity postulates

© Kinga Butlewska

macro scale

The first part of the project is an experiment in macro-scale application of ReCity postulates in a selected post-industrial city - Łódź - by performing analyses and concepts, i.e. components of an urban design. The final component of this part is the creation of a concept for a blue-green network, embedded in the existing urban fabric of Lodz, and a concept for the city's self-sufficiency in terms of energy and water management. Lodz's proposed zero-energy grid concept is based on the principle of broad decentralization. The city could divide into smaller units, which, acquiring renewable energy locally, would be able to meet their own energy needs.


The second part of the urban-architectural project deals with the micro scale. The project at this scale is an attempt to answer the question of what a self-sustaining settlement would look like and how it would work, guaranteeing a high urban quality of life while using modern technology. It was created using information on the needs of the residents of Lodz contained in the Local Revitalization Program of the City of Lodz.

The area of the detailed study is a fragment of the district (55 hectares) - Old Widzew in Łódź. It is located in the immediate vicinity of the site of the future EXPO Horticultural 2024.


urban planning concept

© Kinga Butlewska

The idea behind the urban design of the project is to create two green retention loops covering the most important points of the part of Widzew, which constitute the identity of the area. The focal point of the whole assumption is the social park, which creates a green line connecting the EXPO area with the rest of the blue-green network. It contains attractive spaces conducive to relationship-building, enabling active or passive relaxation among the greenery, and a commercial function is also present. The social park consists of a living gateway in the form of an orchard.

koncepcja parku

concept of the park

© Kinga Butlewska

The designed residential development is based on the separation of neighborhood quarters. Each of them is delineated by an outer chain of multi-family buildings and lower residential buildings in the middle. Between the buildings are community gardens. At the scale of the entire urban design, the quarter buildings vary according to their location. The full, ground-standing quarters fragment and break towards the green rings and the EXPO area. The further away from the center of the establishment, the more dispersed it is, "floating" in the air (freed first floor).

zasada kształtowania

principle of development design

© Kinga Butlewska

Building materials considered in the project are characterized by a low carbon footprint. The structure and facades were planned from recycled (demolition) brick or prefabricated elements with a high proportion of wood. Individual buildings, raised above the ground, which are part of external neighborhood quarters, have wood construction and facades in the form of CLT panels set on a concrete, reinforced, disc-forming ceiling or withwhite photovoltaic panels (they have already been invented) transitioning to a facade composed of sliding panels of a membrane containing fiberglass coated with silicone.

plan zagospodarowania

site development plan

© Kinga Butlewska

The ridges of all roofs of the designed buildings face south to achieve the best possible energy performance. Visually, this also results in a sculptural break in the roof slopes. Their shape also depends on adopting the appropriate degree of roof pitch set by the panel manufacturers. The designed buildings have a compact body. One of the quarters is a model plus-energy solution with buildings with a southern orientation.

przekrój A-A przez

A-A cross-section through the site

© Kinga Butlewska

A wastewater management concept was also introduced, separating the buildings' sewage systems into gray and black. Black water is collected separately and converted to heat and electricity in the district; gray water is cleaned and discharged into local waters. These solutions contribute to a significant reduction in water consumption.


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